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Hydra 2012 Survey

The 2012 edition of Hydra's survey assessing the state of Search integration is now live. To ensure the results delivered from the survey are valuable, we need as many Search specialists and digital marketers as possible to take the survey. 

Please take five minutes out of your day to take the survey and to be in with the chance of winning a great prize! One lucky winner will get to use Hydra for a three month period free of charge. That's the equivalent of adding multiple Search staff members to a team at no extra cost. Take the survey now for your chance of winning the opportunity to see how The One Platform can help maximise your Search effectiveness, delivering real ROI. 

The 2012 Hydra Survey: The State of Search Integration 

 

Posted by Becky Hayward at 11:00
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Integrated Search - Dynamic Ads

We have been advocating the management of Natural and Paid Search campaigns as a joint strategy since before the launch of The One Platform.  In fact, it was precisely this notion which led us to create a technology that could facilitate this.  Why?  For us there is a simple reason: potential and existing customers experience Search as a seamless list of relevant results to their query - few differentiate between Natural and Paid results. 

There is another incentive to run these two channels cooperatively, if Google's moves in the market are anything to go by.  Over the course of the past few years we have seen changes in the search engine result pages (SERPs) that are further blurring the line between Natural and Paid Search channels; we have also seen metrics such as Quality Score increasingly rely on what have traditionally been perceived as Natural Search metrics such as Relevancy.  A recent development, the introduction of Dynamic Search Ads (albeit in Beta for the U.S. from October 2011) further confirms this rapprochement between the two disciplines.

What are Dynamic Search Ads?

As the name suggests, Dynamic Search Ads are ads that are generated dynamically by Google predominantly based on a website's content.  Google takes natural search information gathered by its crawl and defines the keywords that your site could potentially appear for in Paid Search results.  When a user types a query, Google determines (very much along the same lines as with Natural Search results) whether your site is relevant to that query and automatically generates and serves an ad based on the site's content and the ad template criteria predefined by the advertiser. (See below)

Dynamic Ads Image

Source: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2011/10/introducing-dynamic-search-ads-beta.html

Dynamic Search Ads can be run in conjunction with non-dynamic campaigns (i.e. campaigns that a Paid Search specialist has defined in the standard way) to supplement impressions and clicks to the website or uncover new queries not previously targeted.  They are also meant to simplify the management of AdWords campaigns for those who simply don't have the resource to plan, deploy, monitor and update multiple campaigns covering thousands of potential keywords.

However, running Dynamic Search Ads without the appropriate reviews and checks in place has an inherent risk: potentially decreased Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) for the advertiser. 

But the interest of this post is not to delve in the advantages or disadvantages of Dynamic Search Ads.  We are instead much more interested in the paradigm shift that Dynamic Search Ads appear to confirm.

Why do Dynamic Search Ads matter to Search Engine Marketing?

Leaving the benefits and downsides of running Dynamic Search Ads aside for a second, Dynamic Search Ads matter because the ability to run such ads successfully entirely depends on the overall state of a website from what has traditionally been a Natural Search point of view:

-          Without good performance from an Accessibility standpoint, for example, the indexing of content that defines whether a website could be used for x or y query in Dynamic Search Ads could be severely affected.

-         Even if Accessibility issues are not a hindrance, the lack of good quality, relevant content can severely affect when and for which queries a Dynamic Search Ad is generated.  Relevancy may take a whole new level of importance as it sways Quality Scores and defines the ads that could be potentially served using the alternative: Dynamic Search Ads.

Neglecting areas such as accessibility and relevancy of a website could limit the choices for testing and discovering new opportunities online that could be potentially derived from running Dynamic Search Ads.  Today, it may not seem of great value to pass on this chance; however, if anything can be deduced from previous feature releases in AdWords, we should expect Dynamic Search Ads to become more prevalent by 2013. 

This is important since it changes the priority assigned to the tasks performed by the Natural Search specialist and emphasises cooperation between Natural and Paid Search teams.  In fact, this may also point at the need to not only encourage cooperation but instead, create the right environment for knowledge transfer between the two disciplines. 

Personally, I believe that the days of planning Natural and Paid Search strategies are coming to an end.  It is becoming incredibly apparent that if a company or agency wants to succeed in search marketing, they will need to think of it as a single medium with a specific set of goals - and plan the strategy and tactics accordingly.

If you want to learn more about how to manage, optimise and monitor Natural and Paid Search campaigns as a single integrated strategy, get in touch

 

Posted by Ruth Zohrer at 11:36
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Optimising the Buying Cycle Part II - Tying Keywords to Desired Outcomes

Following on from part one of our recent White Paper - Optimising the Buying Cycle, we now release part two of the paper which focuses on tying keywords to desired actions.

For years, SEO specialists have been used to managing just a handful of keywords, and ordinarily without the combination of Paid Search data and insight. Recent technological developments however have evolved to such an extent that marketers can now view both SEO and PPC data side by side in an integrated view allowing them to achieve better ROI.

Our new White Paper considers keyword research, prioritisation and management of keywords across the disciplines, discussing how they fit into the various stages of the buying cycle. By using technology to better understand the buying cycle, its various stages and how to optimise search marketing campaigns within it - marketing specialists can better define which keywords elicit which responses from prospects. In this paper, we give tips to assist both natural and paid search specialists in fine-tuning the language used within campaigns across the different channels to ultimately enhance effectiveness and increase results.

 

Posted by Becky Hayward at 13:38
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Can Natural Search specialists benefit from Paid Search insights?

A common challenge faced by digital in-house and agency teams is that most of their channel specialists have grown accustomed to working in silos.  In an environment where online actions are becoming more intertwined, the risks of isolation far outweigh its benefits (see our 2011 Integration Survey if you want to learn more).  However, it is difficult to transition into a more integrated model without incentives for channel specialists to make the switch.  For this reason, we have explored some of the areas where specialists could derive value from other disciplines for planning and executing their campaigns.

As a start, we have highlighted the Top 5 areas where Natural Search could derive additional insight from Paid Search:

1. Optimising budget allocation:

Shifting budget from a group of keywords to another based on the relationship between Natural and Paid Search performance in SERPs    

2. Researching competitors

Understanding your competitors' priorities based on their Natural and Paid Search spend

3. Benchmarking campaign performance 

Identifying which changes are caused by seasonality, cannibalisation between channels or mere Natural Search performance fluctuations

4. Discovering new keyword opportunities

Unearthing new language being used by customers through Paid Search reports

5. Assessing landing page quality

Using Quality Score (QS) factors as additional metrics to identify areas of improvement

To read the detailed overview of these opportunities for integration, download our latest white paper Natural Search Specialist, should Paid Search matter to you?

Posted by Ruth Zohrer at 12:00
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